Occasional posts on subjects including field recording, London history and literature, other websites worth looking at, articles in the press, and news of sound-related events.

13 December 2009

Some field recording tips

THIS IS REALLY only a list of things that I try to remind myself of from time to time. There’s no technical tips among them, because you can find plenty of those elsewhere on the internet, written by better-qualified people.

1. Whatever you do with your recordings, organise them well from the outset.

2. Don’t take it for granted that your recording will cause the listener to share the same feelings you had when you were there making it.

3. Take time with editing and experiment with different selections from the same recording. Say you record a three-quarter-hour ‘sound walk’ – what’s the best two or three minutes?

4. Be aware of your own geographical routines and habits, and come up with ways to step outside them. Study maps and consider arbitrary schemes to get you to go to places you otherwise wouldn’t visit.

5. Building up mental categories for different kinds of sounds and their environments makes it easier to think of new subjects to record.

6. Some of the best field recordists have the advantage of a musical background. But if you’re like me, and only ever got the triangle in the school band, you can find other ways to approach sound. Recordings can be imagined as telling fragments of stories, or providing the atmospheric soundtrack to a film.

7. As Woody Allen once said, 80% of success lies in turning up. Go out and start recording. Don’t worry about not having some £2,000 digital field recorder. If you earmark an afternoon for field recording, and the first hour or two is disappointing, don’t give up. You never know what you might come across next.